There are the staples we’ve come to know and love from the Call of Duty series: fantastic multiplayer, decent story, and when Treyarch has the reigns, ZOMBIES. Black Ops II meets all the requirements whilst taking the series to a new high.
The story (I’ve only played through it once, so mine was probably different than yours) was a step up from the boring and lifeless Modern Warfare 3. Modern Warfare 3 had a fantastic beginning and ending, but the middle was terrible slop. Black Ops II is fantastic throughout, save for some levels that have gameplay issues. It was also co-written by David S. Goyer (The Dark Knight, Man of Steel, Batman Begins) so that helped A TON.
Some of the levels in Black Ops II require you to use vehicles. This would be a good thing (a la Battlefield 3) if the controls didn’t suck so terribly that the sections were almost unplayable. I also played my story on Veteran, meaning these controls were costing me valuable time and restarts. The F-18 mission towards the end is so ridiculously hard because of the controls and what the game wants you to do that I almost rage quit.
The other terrible thing is Strike Force. At least, it’s terrible on Veteran. In the story missions, even on Veteran, your AI is badass. They’re smart. They kill people. They make good decisions. In Strike Force? They’re basically children. I played the final Strike Force mission 4 times in 3 different ways and my people still died horribly. They would run up and completely pass people shooting at them for some reason. They wouldn’t shoot back. IT WAS TERRIBLE. This wouldn’t be so bad, except that the Strike Force mission affect your story.
The brilliance of the Strike Force missions lay in that point. They affect your story. There are RPG elements in Black Ops II! You make decisions that matter. THIS IS BRILLIANT. This is what puts Black Ops II a step above the other titles in the series (except for CoD4, that was unfairly amazing). Throughout the game you’ll come to points where you have to make decisions for the characters. These are live/die shoot/don’t shoot decisions. They make your story different than mine and that’s incredible.
The acting/mo-cap/VO is fantastic w/ Raul Menendez’s actor (Kamar De Los Reyes) being the best of the bunch. Harper (pictured above) is voiced by Michael Rooker of Walking Dead and the original Black Ops’ Zombies campaign fame. His character was kind of hard to peg for me. I couldn’t escape the smarmy voice of Merle. That made it hard to connect with his character, but he was still great. Woods, Mason, everyone else? Phenomenal. The acting in this game was top notch.
Call of Duty still suffers from control fatigue though (invisible walls, limited view). If I’m involved in a cut scene, I should be able to look anywhere I want and walk anywhere I want. It’s a game, not a movie. If I wanted to watch a movie, I would, but I’m playing a game. LET ME PLAY THE GAME. Constantly in the story you’re stuck with a small box for viewing whatever is going on in the scene. This needs to change.
The multiplayer is still amazing. It’s a Call of Duty game from Treyarch! What did you expect? I’ve not had the chance to delve too deeply into Tranzit mode or Zombies, but the regular multiplayer is better than ever.
They’ve revamped the loadout system so that you can pretty much do whatever you want. Want two super weapons with no perks? You can do that. Want one weapon with tons of perks? You can do that too. It’s awesome.
All in all this game had a great story, with major gameplay issues at times, but great multiplayer as well. This installment ends up being one of the best games of 2012. It gets a 8/10 from me.
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